Bacon Nutrition Facts

Pros and Cons of America's Favorite Breakfast Meat

Bacon annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Bacon is sometimes referred to as "meat candy: and for good reason. It is packed with flavor from pork, salt, chemical or natural smoke, and, occasionally sugar or other sweeteners. To improve the appearance and shelf life of bacon, nitrate and nitrite preservatives are frequently added during processing.

At its most basic, bacon is simply salt-cured pork. The streaky bacon Americans eat for breakfast is derived from the pork belly. Leaner bacon from back cuts is referred to as either Canadian bacon or back bacon. 

It will come as no surprise that bacon isn't on many "healthy eating" food lists.

Like any other high-fat animal protein, bacon has its place in a balanced diet if consumed in moderation.

Bacon Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided for three slices (35g) of pork bacon.

  • Calories: 161
  • Fat: 12g
  • Sodium: 581mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.6g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 12g

A single serving of bacon is not exceptionally high in calories but offers high quantities of saturated fat and nearly a quarter of the daily allowance of sodium.

It has only slightly less the same calories at regular bacon but half the saturated fat. It has only slightly less cholesterol (28 milligrams) and sodium (411 milligrams).

While some people have turned to turkey bacon as a "healthy" alternative, the difference in nutritional value is not as significant as you might think. Three slices of turkey bacon have only 90 calories and 40% fewer saturated fats than their pork cousin.

Turkey bacon is also high in sodium (492 milligrams) and contains more cholesterol per serving than either streaky or back bacon, 37 milligrams.

Carbs in Bacon

Many dieters consume bacon as part of a low-carb or ketogenic diet. Since bacon is high in fat and low in carbohydrates, it is considered acceptable for these types of weight loss plans. For people on a low-fat or low-sodium diet, bacon is clearly a less attractive option.

For the average 2,000-calorie American diet, carbohydrates should make up between 45 and 65 percent of your daily calories. Depending on your sex and age, that would amount to between 225 and 325 grams of carbs per day.

Despite the low carb content, all bacon is not created equally. Bacon that has been sweetened with maple syrup or brown sugar will be higher in sugar, mainly glucose. This is the type of carb your body burns quickly and one that affects your blood sugar most profoundly.

Bacon's low carb count also means that it has virtually no dietary fiber. This is the form of indigestible carbohydrate that aids in digestion and slows the absorption of fat and sugar into the bloodstream.

Fats in Bacon

For an average 2,000-calorie diet, 20% to 35% of your total calories should come from fat, translating to around 44 to 78 grams per day. While it may be easy to shrug off the fact that bacon can account for as much as a quarter of your daily intake, most of it will come from saturated fat which can have a negative impact on heart health if consumed in large amounts. .

Saturated fat can clog your arteries and contribute to the development of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, saturated fat should account for no more than 5 to 6 percent of your daily calories.

Protein in Bacon

Around 10% to 35% of your daily total calories should come from protein. The recommended daily protein intake for men is 55 to 57 grams and 47 to 48 grams for women.

At 12 grams per serving, bacon offers a quality source of protein. To mitigate the high-fat content, bolster your diet with other types of meat and plant-based proteins, such as bean, eggs, dairy, poultry, fish, and tofu. 

Micronutrients in Bacon

Bacon is a good source of potassium. On average, adults should consume around 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day. Potassium supports blood pressure, cardiovascular health, bone strength, and muscle strength.

Bacon also delivers a significant amount of vitamins BI, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12, and more than 50% of your reference dietary intake (RDI) of selenium and phosphorus. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that can eliminate free radicals that damage cells. Phosphorus promotes strong bones and teeth and helps filter waste from the kidneys.

Health Benefits

Bacon is not all "bad" if eaten in moderation. Among some of the potential benefits:

  • Roughly 50% of the fat in bacon comes from "healthy" monounsaturated fat which can temper some of the inflammation triggered by saturated fat.
  • Fat is essential to a diet and aids in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Despite the risks, saturated fat is associated with health benefits among some groups.

Bacon can be part of a nutrient-rich diet. If in doubt or dealing with cardiovascular concerns, speak with your doctor to assess the dietary impact, if any, on your health.

Common Questions

Below we answer some common questions about bacon.

Can crispy bacon cause cancer?

The long-held belief that crispy bacon can cause cancer dates back to the 1970s. Back then, early studies showed that mice exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs)— chemicals produced when meat is charred—had an increased incidence of cancer. 

Other scientists expressed concerns about cancer-causing chemicals known as acrylamides, which are produced when certain foods are heavily roasted or charred. It is also created when burning tobacco. 

Recent epidemiological studies in humans have not supported these early findings that eating crispy bacon causes cancer.

In fact, a 2015 review of studies concluded that acrylamide was not linked to the most common cancers but did have a modest association with kidney, endometrial, and ovarian cancer in people who had never smoked.

Bacon has only around 0.3 grams of carbs per serving, a minuscule amount. Moreover, cooking bacon to a golden brown helps render more of the fat that you might otherwise be eating.

How long can you keep bacon?

If unopened and properly refrigerated, bacon will maintain its best quality for about a month, depending on the "sell-by" date. Once opened, you should eat the bacon within seven days, according to guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

You should never eat bacon that is past its "use-by" date or more than seven days after its "sell-by" date. Irrespective of the date, if bacon ever smells sour or off, it is probably bad. Throw it out. If frozen, bacon can keep safely in the freezer for up to six months.

Recipes and Preparation

There are several ways to cook bacon:

  • For the skillet method, place strips of raw bacon in a cold frying pan without overlapping. Turn the burner to medium and turn the bacon occasionally until each side is a light golden brown. Drain the cooked bacon on two layers of paper towel.
  • For the oven method, line a ridged cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lay out the bacon strips without overlapping. Place in a cold oven. Turn the oven to 400 degrees F and bake to desired crispness, around 25 to 35 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  • For the microwave method, line a microwave-safe plate with two layers of paper towel. Lay out several bacon strips without overlapping and cover with two more paper towels. Cook in the microwave for four to six minutes on a high setting until you achieve the desired crispness.

Try bacon crumbled over a salad, cream soup, or casserole. You can even crumble some over a serving of vanilla ice cream with low-fat caramel sauce for a sweet and salty sensation.

Here are other recipes you can try at home:


Bacon allergies are uncommon but can occur. As with any other type of meat allergy, a bacon allergy can develop during any stage of life. Meat allergies are common in people exposed to the Lone Star tick, a parasite found predominantly in the southeastern United States from Texas to Iowa and into parts of New England.

Symptoms of a bacon allergy may include hives, rash, stomach cramps, sneezing, headaches, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. In rare cases, a potentially life-threatening allergy known as anaphylaxis may occur, requiring emergency medical treatment.

The nitrates and nitrites used to preserve bacon may also cause an allergic response. Allergies of these sorts may cause hoarseness, wheezing, cough, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Anaphylaxis may also occur. 

Adverse Effects

Even in you don't have a nitrate/nitrite allergy, you may react to them during later pregnancy. This is due to the accumulation of a substance in blood known as methemoglobin which interacts with the preservative, causing nausea and stomach upset.

You may want to avoid bacon after your 30th week of pregnancy or find a preservative-free bacon brand.

If you are on monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) used to treat depression, you will need to limit your intake of bacon and any other foods high in tyramine. Other high-tyramine foods include cheese, processed fish and meat, beans, beer, and fermented foods. The overconsumption may lead to a potentially dangerous spike in blood pressure, known as malignant hypertension. 

Speak with your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms after eating bacon. Be sure to bring along the product label with both the ingredient list and nutritional information.

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13 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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